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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I have no idea where this photo is from so I cannot give credit where credit is due. My friend sent it to me and I thought it was so cute I had to post it here.

I first started in January of 2012, my first post was on the 12th, it was a little scary, wondering if anyone would read it and like my posts. You have all been so kind and welcoming, so many of you have very well established and beautiful blogs, I enjoy reading every single entry from each of you, I have learned a lot and hope that in 2013 I will learn even more. My goal is to improve content and take better photographs. It’s hard sometimes juggling job, family and a blog which really does take quite a bit of time and effort, you know what I am talking about, right?

Thank you to those of you that gave me the fantastic awards, recognition from my piers means so much to me.

I hope all of you have a safe, happy and prosperous 2013. All the best to each of you!! I admire and appreciate each and every one of you.

Spiced White Hot Chocolate

Spice White Hot Chocolate

Spiced White Hot Chocolate

When I lived abroad one of my friends made a very simple drink on cold days before bed, it was treacle and hot milk. I grew to really love it, dark treacle has a similar flavor to molasses, I took this drink and changed it a bit, I used white chocolate, molasses, ginger and nutmeg. It is delicious, a little spicy, sweet and creamy. I topped it with some unsweetened whipped cream with a sprinkle of nutmeg. You can add a nip of brandy or cognac to make it a bit more joyful!

Serves 2 cups

  • 16 ounces whole milk
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate cut into small chunks
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • unsweetened whipped cream
  • sprinkles of nutmeg

Add milk, molasses, ginger and nutmeg to small saucepan. Heat to scalding but don’t bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate, whisk until chocolate is melted. Whip your cream. Pour into mugs, top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg

Knock Your Socks Off Homemade Baileys

IMG_0374First I have to say I love Lynne Knowlton and her blog “Design The Life You Want To Live”, she is fun, informative and has the most amazing design sense. I enjoy it and look forward to every single post. When I saw her recipe for homemade Baileys I knew I had to try it. I love sipping Baileys, it’s like dessert for me, sweet, creamy and just plain delicious. This literally takes a minute to make and the results are tremendous. It is strong, really kind of knock your socks off strong, it’s ok its the Holiday Season and sipping a little of this in the comfort of your home is a good thing, right??  Check out Lynne’s blog, I know you will love it as much as I do. She is funny, irreverent and a design genius. Love you Lynne!! Thanks for such an easy and really delicious recipe.

Homemade Baileys

13 oz vodka (Mine was straight from the freezer)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 pint table or light cream

2 tbs chocolate syrup, Lynne recommends Nestle’s I made my own since I didn’t have any.

Put all ingredients in the blender, give it a whiz and enjoy!!

I  brought a bottle to my daughters for Christmas, she and everyone loved it and I immediately got a request to make another batch for the in-laws. It’s so easy to make I can whip up a batch any time at all.

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Every year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas I make pies, lots of pies for friends and family. This Christmas I only made 2 pies and lots and lots (and lots) of cookies and loaves. I found this recipe on Joy the Bakers website, she is amazing and has a fantastic cookbook out also. I just had to write about this recipe because a good sweet potato pie has eluded me for many years now. This pie is perfect, the directions are crystal clear and it will be the recipe I use from now on. I used my go to pie crust recipe instead of the one included in the recipe and I just can’t tell you how excited I am that I finally made a sweet potato pie that doesn’t have cracks. You can find the recipe here. Visit Joy’s blog it’s chock full of wonderful recipes, I also plan on getting her cookbook.

I made just a couple of very minor changes,firstly I doubled the recipe, I needed two pies, instead of boiling the sweet potatoes I bake them until they are soft and caramelized and instead of mashing with a potato masher I puree in the food processor. She calls for 2  5 oz cans of evaporated milk. I used one can and 5 oz of heavy cream. I also added only cinnamon because these pies are not for me, I baked them for a friend and thats how she likes it. The method is brilliant, similar to Meta Givens pumpkin pie recipe on Food52, you heat the pureed sweet potato with half the milk, the butter, brown sugar and spices, let it cool and then add to the remaining milk or cream, eggs and vanilla. Bake in a hot oven (450) for 10 minutes then an hour at 325. The resulting pie is perfection. If you are a fan of sweet potato pie you must try this recipe.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

I want to take this opportunity to wish each and every one  of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza or whatever you celebrate. I truly appreciate all of you and want to thank you for visiting my blog and for the kind and caring comments.

We are all truly blessed and have much to be thankful for. As we spend time with family and friends and enjoy delicious food that I know you all will be preparing, it will be abundantly clear just how wonderful life is.

Have a wonderful day!

Suzanne, Nando and Izzy





Couldn't resist, all dressed up for Christmas

Couldn’t resist, all dressed up for Christmas

Applesauce Mini Loaves

Applesauce Mini Loaves

Applesauce Mini Loaves

I am still working on edible gifts for friends and family and as usual I am behind. Most of these will be hand delivered but some will be getting theirs after Christmas. These loaves are a variation of the banana bread recipe that I love so much, the only substitution is that I used homemade applesauce instead of banana’s. I also added some spice and finished with a cream cheese drizzle and some toasted walnuts.

Makes one regular sized loaf or 3 mini loaves

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 heaping cup applesauce (homemade or commercially prepared-unsweetened)

1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray the bottoms of loaf pans or pan.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs and mix using either stand or hand held mixer until the eggs are completely incorporated and its smooth and creamy.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a bowl and add to the butter mixture. Mix just until its combined. Add the applesauce, sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely combined.

Divide evenly into loaf pans if making the mini loaves or scrape into loaf pan. For mini loaves bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick or tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If making a large loaf bake 60-70 minutes.

Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes then invert onto rack and let cool completely, Drizzle with icing and sprinkle walnuts on top. Refrigerate until drizzle becomes hard (it’s important if you are going to package the loaves) Put approx 1/4 cup walnuts in food processor, pulse a couple of times, place on piece of parchment into the 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until you can smell the walnuts. Remove and let cool.


2 tbs softened cream cheese

1 tbs butter at room temperature

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix until smooth, add a few drops of water it its too thick. Drizzle onto loaves and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Secret Santa Gift Swap And A Loaf Of Bread

Gift Swap

Gift Swap

I have been an active cook on Food52 for almost 2 years now, it’s a wonderful community of kind and giving cooks/chefs some very accomplished home cooks and other culinary professionals. I have made some good friends and count myself very lucky to know them.

Last year one of the community members (Noelle/Enbe) offered to organize a Secret Santa gift swap for members for the Food52 community, it was a huge success and Noelle organized it again this year. I registered and sent a very nice package to South Carolina and the day after I sent my package I received a beautiful package from California. I was thrilled to find out that my Secret Santa was Helen (Antonia James on food52), She put together a thoughtful and beautiful basket, home canned blueberry jam and blueberries in syrup, assorted homemade (delicious) cookies, Levain that Helen started and a brotform proofing bowl. I was thrilled and a little scared, well I was scared because I have never baked bread using a levain nor have I fed or cared for levain before. I thought, geez I kill every single houseplant that comes into my house, not on purpose of course, will I kill this too?  Helen so carefully cultivated and shipped it  to me and I really wanted it to work.  Luckily, she was kind enough to give me instructions on the care and feeding of levain, I followed her directions and was delighted that my levain thrived and grew.

Levain is fed and starting to bubble

Levain is fed and starting to bubble

Yesterday I made the bread dough, following William Alexanders recipe for baguettes, it fermented overnight in the fridge and I am going to bake it today.

Bread dough after fermeting overnight look at those bubbles

Bread dough after fermeting overnight look at those bubbles

I baked a baguette and a boule and they turned out pretty well, I need to work on the shaping of the loaves but all in all I think my first try at baking bread with levain was a success. I am so grateful to Helen for sending it to me, I have learned a lot!! I also used the brotform mold to proof the boule ,love the circular lines on the loaf. Below is William Alexanders recipe for baguettes. Please visit his wonderful website and buy his book he is genius. I have to say the bread is exceptional, a thin crisp crust and soft interior, it’s a little work caring and feeding levain but the results are well worth it.

Boule and baguette

Boule and baguette


375 g all-purpose flour (13.23 oz)
250 g levain (8.8oz)
215 g water (7.58oz)
¼ teas. instant yeast
10 g salt

  1. Prepare the dough

  2. Feed levain at least 2 hours or the night before beginning.
  3. Mix all ingredients and allow dough to rest, covered (“autolyse”) for about 25 min.
  4. Knead by hand for about 7 minutes until dough is silky and elastic.
  5. Cover with oil-misted plastic wrap. If doing an overnight fermentation, place immediately in refrigerator. For same-day baking, ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, then ferment in refrigerator an additional 4 hours.
  6. Remove from refrigerator and wait for dough to reach temperature (2 to 3 hours).

    Form loaves and proof

  7. Place an old cast-iron skillet on the bottom shelf of your oven and a pizza stone near the middle rack.
  8. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  9. On a floured countertop, divide dough into 4 equal parts of about 212 grams each (don’t go crazy trying to make them all exactly the same), shape into balls, and allow to rest, covered for 15 minutes. (I sometimes omit this step if in a hurry, but it does help to relax the dough for the next step.)
  10. Press each ball into approximately a 3- by 5-inch rectangle, and form baguettes as shown in the accompanying video. You should have nice little blisters or bubbles of gas in the dough – leave them!
  11. Proof in a floured couche (a heavy linen canvas) or, lacking that, between folds of parchment paper, for 45-60 minutes.

    Score and bake

  12. With four baguettes to place into your oven, it’s sometimes easier to use a wide baking sheet rather than your peel. Sprinkle the sheet liberally with corn meal or rice flour (or cover with a sheet of parchment paper), transfer the baguettes to it (I use a narrow piece of quarter-inch plywood as a flipping board, but you can use transfer them by hand as well).
  13. Using a fresh single-edged razor or a lame, make several overlapping diagonal slashes on each baguette.
  14. Transfer the baguettes to the stone with a clean jerk back of the baking sheet. Quickly add a cup of water to the skillet and turn oven down to 480°F.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is a rich brown and center registers 210°F or a rap on the bottom of the loaf produces a hollow percussion sound.
  16. Cool on rack.

Day 7 Of 7 Days Of Holiday Cookies- Gingerbread People

Gingerbread People

Gingerbread People

I am finally getting around to posting the last day of my 7 Days of Holiday cookies. I decided to make gingerbread people (not men or ladies) they are androgynous I guess. My piping and decorating skills are less than stellar as evidenced by the sad smiles and the one with a sparkling sugar vest but I’m going to work on it. I made only a few to test the recipe and hone my piping skills.

This recipe is delicious, next time I make it I am going to roll the dough a little thicker than 1/4 inch so they are even plumper. The kids will love these and I hope that after my test run they will look more polished. Because these are for children I didn’t make a royal icing, I didn’t have powdered egg whites and did not want the kids to have raw egg white, so I just mixed confectioners sugar with some water and  a few drops of clear corn syrup. It’s a little sticky and not as easy to work with but safer, I didn’t measure anthing just mixed until I felt the consistency was right. This is adapted from a recipe I found on Martha Stewarts website.

Makes approximately 36 (depending on the size of your cookie cutter)


  •  3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  •  1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
  •  1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  •  2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  •  3/4 tsp course salt
  •  1 egg
  •  1/2 cup molasses (unsulfured)
  • Royal Icing or icing of your choice
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into two discs; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4-inch thick. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, remove to wire rack to cool

Sadness… A Day Of Remembrance